CBABC receives regular updates from the Courts, LSBC, LTSA, and others. We will update this page as information becomes available to us. 

Province of BC
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ORDER OF THE MINISTER OF PUBIC SAFETY AND SOLICITOR GENERAL

Emergency Program Act

Ministerial Order No. M094

WHEREAS a declaration of a state of emergency throughout the whole of the Province of British Columbia was declared on March 18, 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic;

AND WHEREAS section 10 (1) of the Emergency Program Act provides that I may do all acts and implement all procedures that I consider necessary to prevent, respond to or alleviate the effects of any emergency or disaster;

AND WHEREAS the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic to the health, safety or welfare of people has resulted in guidelines, recommendations or requirements to limit in-person contacts;

AND WHEREAS it is necessary to support the provision of daily services essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic social functioning;

AND WHEREAS it is in the public interest to protect persons who operate or provide essential services from liability for damages relating, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19, if those persons operate or provide those services, or reasonably believe that they are operating or providing those services, in accordance with all applicable emergency and public health guidance;

I HEREBY order that the attached Protection Against Liability (COVID-19) Order is made.

Download the Ministerial Order

 

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Limitation periods to commence court proceedings in British Columbia have been suspended, and statutory decision-makers have been provided discretion to waive, suspend or extend time periods related to their powers. 

At the request of the Attorney General, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General has made the order under the Emergency Program Act to protect public health and to recognize that during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, British Columbians involved in legal or administrative proceedings may be unable to take steps required by legislation. 

The order provides that mandatory limitation periods, and other mandatory time periods established in an enactment or law of British Columbia, within which a civil or family action, proceeding, claim or appeal must be commenced in the provincial court, Supreme Court or Court of Appeal are suspended. It also provides that a person, tribunal or other body that has a statutory power of decision may waive, suspend or extend a mandatory time period relating to the exercise of that power.

The order applies during the current state of emergency, including any extension of the state of emergency. 

Court Updates
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Notice to the Profession, the Public and the Media Regarding Civil Proceedings - Insolvency

The notice supplements the following notice: 

  • Notice of Suspension of Regular Court Operations in Civil and Family Proceedings, revised March 30, 2020

Effective March 19, 2020 and until further notice, the Honourable Chief Justice Hinkson has suspended regular operations of the Supreme Court of British Columbia at all of its locations to protect the health and safety of court users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

Courthouses remain open. However, in person registry services have been suspended until further notice. Counsel, parties, litigants and members of the public are strongly discouraged from attending courthouses unless personal attendance is absolutely necessaryor unless the Court otherwise directs.

I. ADJOURNMENT OF CIVIL MATTERS

All civil matters scheduled for hearing between March 19, 2020 and May 1, 2020 are adjourned, unless the Court otherwise directs.This automatic adjournment extends to all trials, conferences,and chambers applications or other hearings currently scheduled for hearing before May 1, 2020.

II.THE COURT WILL HEAR ONLY ESSENTIAL AND URGENT MATTERS

While regular operations are suspended the Court will hear only essential and urgent matters. In the previous Notice issued March 30, 2020, various civil matters were presumptivelyconsidered to be of an essential orurgent nature. In addition, the following insolvency matters can be considered to be of an essential or urgent nature.The Court has discretion to hear urgent matters other than those listed below, and to decline to hear a matter listed.

III. ESSENTIAL AND URGENT INSOLVENCY MATTERS

The followingare examples of insolvency matters that can be essential or urgent:

  1. Shareholder disputes or oppressive conduct that may require some immediate relief under the CBCA/BCA.
  2. An application for an interim and/or final order for an arrangement under the CBCA/BCA.
  3. The appointment of a liquidator, receive, interim receiver or receiver-manager under the CBCA/BCA/BIA/Law and Equity Act of BC.
  4. An application for a bankruptcy order under the BIA.
  5. An application for an initial order under the CCAAor the extension of a stay ofproceedings under the CCAA.
  6. An application for relief specific to restructuring procedures in a context of proceedings under the BIA or CCAA, such as authorization of a sale of assets, interim financing, claims process orders, adjudication of claims, meeting orders and sanction orders.
  7. A time-sensitive application in a fore closure proceeding, such asapproval of a sale.

IV. PROCEDURES FOR ESSENTIAL OR URGENT MATTERS

The Court has established procedures to allow for parties to requestthe hearing of essential orurgent insolvency matters.

The online process is to be used where possible. The paper process is to be used if it is not possible to use the online process. For example, if a court file is sealed, the online process cannot be used and paper filings will be necessary. In addition, there is a size limit of 10MB for documents submitted through CSO or email, which may require documents to be sent in stages or filed by the paper process.

In both processes, a judge will first review the applicant’s unfiled materials to determine if a hearing is required. If the judge determines that a hearing is required, the Court will give directions to both the applicant and the respondent(s) to provide filed materials for the hearing.

A. Requesting a Hearing –Online Process (use if possible)

  • The party requesting a hearing of an essential or urgent matter completes and submits an online Request for Urgent Hearing-Insolvency Form (“Request Form”).
  • The Court sends the parties an Acknowledgment Email confirming receipt of the Request Form and notifying all parties of the request.
  • The party requesting the hearing replies to the Acknowledgment Email as soon as possible and attaches to it:
    • an unfiled draft appropriate form of applicationwhich identifies what orders the party is seeking; and
    • an unfiled draft affidavit which sets out the key facts and describes the urgency.
  • Once the Request Form, draft application and draft affidavit are received, they will be sent to the reviewing judge.
  • The respondent does not provide any materials to the Court at this stage. If the Request Form is submitted with respect to a matter that had previously been scheduled for hearing, the applicant should provide any filed materials thatthe respondent previously servedon them.

B. Requesting a Hearing –Paper Process (Use if you cannot use Online Process)

  • The party requesting a hearing completes a paper copy of the Request Form. Paper copies of the Request Form are available at every Supreme Court registry and are located next to the drop boxinside the courthouse. If possible, the party must provide a telephone number and/or email address at which they may be reached.
  • The party making the request sends the Court the completed Request Form along with
    • an unfiled draft appropriate form of application which identifies what orders the party is seeking; and
    • an unfiled draft affidavitwhich sets out the key facts, describes the urgency, and if applicable, states whether the opposing party(ies) has been notified of this request for an urgent hearing.
  • The completed Request Form, draft application,and draft affidavit must be sent together to the Court in one of the following ways:
    • By using the drop box located at the nearest Supreme Court registry;
    • By mailing it to the nearest Supreme Court registry; or
    • By faxing it to one of the designated registries described in Appendix A.
  • See Part VII of this notice, Changes to Registry Services, for further details about submitting these documents.
  • The respondent does not provide any materials to the Court at this stage.
  • If the Request Form is submitted with respect to a matter that had previously been scheduled for hearing, the applicant should provide any filed materials that the respondent previously served on them.

C. Judge’s Determination of Whether a Hearing is Required

  • A judge will review the Request Form, unfiled application,and draft affidavit submitted by the party requesting a hearing (either by way of the online process or the paper process) and will determine whether an urgent hearing is required.
  • The judge’s determination ofwhether or not a hearing is required will be communicated to all parties:
    • Parties using the online process will receive an email notification;or
    • Parties using the paper process will be contacted atthe contact information provided on the Request Form.

D. Instructions for Filing Materials

  • If the judge determines that a hearing is required, the Court will schedule a date for the hearing.
  • The Court will provide directions to all parties about filing and service of materials for the hearing.See Part VII of this notice, Changes to Registry Services,for further details for filing these materials.

E. Conduct of Hearing

  • Parties will appear at the hearing by telephone where possible and appropriate or by video where appropriate and available.

V. LIMITATION PERIODS AND FILING DEADLINES

A. Filing Timelines under the Supreme Court Rules

Effective March 18, 2020, filing deadlines under the Supreme Court Civil Rules and the Supreme Court Family Rules are suspended until May 1, 2020.

The suspension of regular operations and adjournment of trialsscheduled up to May 1, 2020 necessarily suspends the usual time frames under the Rulesfor holding Trial Management Conferences, for filing Trial Briefs, and for filing Trial Certificates,as these time frames all count back from the scheduled trial date. Trials scheduled for hearing following May 1, 2020 will also be affected,and further directions concerning this will come from the Court as matters evolve.

B. Limitation Periods

Effective March 26, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General suspended limitation periods and mandatory time periods for the commencement of a civil or family proceeding. See Ministerial Order No. M086. Once this suspension is lifted, more directions will be provided by the Court.

VI.CHANGES TO REGISTRY SERVICES

Courthouse registries are no longer providing in-person servicesduring the suspension of the Court’s regular operations.

However, all courthouses will continue to receive documents for any civil matters.

Requests for an urgent hearing should, where possible, be made using the online process described above. However, the following methods may be used by any person unable to use that online process.

For the following situations:

  1. Requests for an urgent hearing where a person is unable to use the online process established by the Court;
  2. Filing of materials as directed by the Court for a scheduled urgent hearing; and
  3. Regular filings that are not defined as essential orurgent;documents may be submitted to the registry by one of the methods set out below.
  • E-filing using Court Services Online;
  • Fax Filing at a registry designated as a fax filing registry by Supreme Court Civil Rule 23-2 or Supreme Court Family Rule 22-3. See Appendix A for a list of fax filing registries and the fax numbers;
  • Mailing to any Supreme Court registry. Contact information for all Supreme Court registries is available here;and
  • *NEW* -Using the Secure Drop Box available at Supreme Court registries. The drop box will be accessible to the public from Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and will be emptied at the end of the day and processed every 24 hours. The drop box will be monitored to ensure its contents are secure during the day. Parties who submit materials for filing using the drop box must provide with the materials a telephone number or email address where they can be reached. Registry staff will contact parties only if their materials are not accepted for filing.

VII.HEARINGS WILL BE SCHEDULED AT SEVEN CENTRALIZED REGISTRIES

Effective March 30, 2020, hearings of the Supreme Court of British Columbia will only be scheduled at the following seven central locations, unless otherwise ordered by the Court:

  • Vancouver Law Courts
  • New Westminster
  • Victoria
  • Kamloops
  • Kelowna
  • Prince George
  • Nanaimo

Hearings will occur by telephone or video where appropriate and available, unless otherwise directed by the Court.Other registries will continue to receive documents in the manner set out in this notice.

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

Dated April 2, 2020, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson
Supreme Court of British Columbia

Appendix A –Fax Filing Registries

Chilliwack (604) 795-8397

Cranbrook (250) 426-1498

Dawson Creek (250) 784-2218

Kamloops (250) 828-4345

Kelowna (250) 979-6768

Nelson (250) 354-6133

Penticton (250) 492-1290

Prince George (250) 614-7923

Rossland (250) 362-7321

Salmon Arm (250) 833-7401

Smithers (250) 847-7344

Terrace (250) 638-2143

Vernon (250) 549-5461

Williams Lake (250) 398-4264

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NOTICE TO THE PARTIES AND THE PROFESSION

TO: Parties and the Profession
FROM: The Honourable Marc Noël, Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Appeal
DATE: April 2, 2020
SUBJECT: Extension of suspension period and additional measures taken

The suspension period set out in the Notice to the Parties and the Profession dated March 19, 2020 is extended until Friday, May 15, 2020. All matters scheduled to be heard during the extended suspension period are adjourned.

The measures outlined in the Notices to the Parties and the Profession dated March 16 and 19, 2020 remain in effect.

Cognizant of the need to allow matters to proceed where possible, parties whose appeal or judicial review application was ready to be heard on March 13, 2020, whether or not the matter had been scheduled, may on consent ask to have the matter heard remotely. The Court will accommodate such requests where the circumstances permit. Parties may also opt to have the matter disposed of on the basis of the record and their respective memorandum of fact and law. Parties are invited to contact the Judicial Administrator by letter signed by each party, by email, to Information@fca-caf.gc.ca, should they wish to so proceed.

As before, urgent matters can be heard remotely.

Members of the public, including the media, may consult the Hearing Schedule on the Court’s website to find out which matters are to be heard. Where the matter proceeds remotely, arrangements can be made to allow for attendance of members of the public and the media provided that an advance notice of two business days is given. Such notice must be provided by email to Information@fca-caf.gc.ca.

In the event that a party files electronic or paper documents with the Registry during the suspension period, all fees payable on filing or issuance under item 1 of Tariff A of the Federal Courts Rules are waived.

Although filing via email (at Information@fca-caf.gc.ca) is strongly encouraged, those unable to file electronically may file paper copies by placing their documents at locations designated for document drop-off at all registry counters. Registry staff will no longer be available to accept in-person filing of paper documents. Parties and members of the legal community are encouraged to regularly consult the website and Twitter account of the Federal Court of Appeal (www.fca-caf.gc.ca; @FedCourtApp_en) as this Notice is subject to ongoing modification as required.

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Note: This Notice replaces the Notice to the Public Regarding the Court of Appeal for British Columbia’s Response to COVID-19 issued 17 March 2020, effective 18 March 2020

Introduction

This notice applies to both civil and criminal appeals.

To protect the health of litigants, court staff, judges and members of the public and to help contain the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Court of Appeal is strictly limiting its operations through this direction by the Chief Justice of British Columbia, effective 18 March 2020, and until further notice. The Court plays a fundamental role in our constitutional democracy and must provide access to justice on the most urgent matters at all times. The limitations described in this notice ensure that the Court continues to hear the most urgent matters while responding proportionally to the COVID-19 international pandemic.

New Appeals and Applications for Leave to Appeal

Required Time Periods to Commence Civil or Family Proceedings Suspended Effective 26 March 2020

On 26 March 2020 the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued an order suspending the required time periods to commence civil or family proceedings in the Court of Appeal. The suspension of time periods is effective beginning 26 March 2020 and will remain in effect until the state of emergency declared under s. 9(1) of the Emergency Program Act on 18 March 2020 expires or is cancelled. For further details review Ministerial Order No. M086.

Required Time Periods to Commence Civil or Family Proceedings between 18 March 2020 and 26 March 2020

Any notice of appeal or application for leave to appeal that needed to be filed prior to 26 March 2020 is still subject to the usual timeline to initiate. Ministerial Order No. M086 does not apply to required time periods for commencing civil and family proceedings in the Court of Appeal between 18 March 2020 and 26 March 2020.

Required Time Periods to Commence Criminal Proceedings

Parties should continue to file and serve notices of appeal or applications for leave to appeal in criminal matters within required time periods.

The Court of Appeal registry will continue to accept filings. However, to support social distancing, the registry counter is closed and all are encouraged to file new criminal appeals and applications for leave to appeal by fax, by mail (filing date to be backdated to the post-mark date), or, if those options are not available, you may contact the registry by phone at the numbers listed below.

After filing and serving new notices of appeal or applications for leave to appeal, all subsequent filing and service deadlines will be suspended and will start to run again beginning 4 May 2020, unless otherwise directed.

Existing Appeals and Applications

The filing and service deadlines for all existing appeals, existing applications for leave to appeal, or other existing matters before the Court were suspended by direction of the Chief Justice effective 18 March 2020 and will start to run again beginning 4 May 2020, except for those matters designated by the Chief Justice as matters that must proceed, or unless otherwise directed.

Neither the direction of the Chief Justice effective 18 March 2020 nor Ministerial Order No. M086 suspends the timelines for taking a step mandated by court order or direction. However, litigants can expect the Court to consider the exceptional circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic if an extension is sought.

In other words, litigants should not file any new materials related to existing appeals, existing applications for leave to appeal, or other existing matters prior to 4 May 2020, unless advised that the appeal is a matter that must proceed, or unless otherwise directed.

Appeal Hearings and Chambers Applications Currently Scheduled to occur between 18 March 2020 and 1 May 2020

All appeal hearings, chambers applications and other matters currently scheduled to occur between 18 March 2020 and 1 May 2020 are adjourned unless designated by the Chief Justice as matters that must proceed.

The Court is examining its docket and creating a list on an ongoing basis of matters that must proceed (for example, urgent criminal, family law or child protection matters). Litigants to an appeal designated as a matter that must proceed will be contacted by the registry and the matter will be presumptively heard remotely by teleconference or in writing.

For matters that are not designated as matters that must proceed, parties who consent to have their appeal, chambers application, or other matter heard by teleconference or in writing may contact the registrar in writing to request the permission of the Chief Justice, or his delegate, to proceed by alternative means.

Further information will follow regarding the rescheduling of adjourned appeals, chambers applications and other matters.

Self-Represented Litigants

Self-represented litigants are expected to comply with the modified processes set out in this notice. Access Pro-Bono has a dedicated appeals program.

If you require assistance contact Heather Wojcik 604-424-8286. You can also visit accessprobono.ca or call 604-878-7400 or 1-877-762-6664 to find out more information about Access Pro-Bono emergency telephone clinics that have been set up in response to COVID-19.

Registry Contact Information

Maria Littlejohn, Court Scheduler: 604.660.2865
Manjit Gunglay, Chambers Scheduler: 604.660.2859
Kristine Dhamrait, Registrar Scheduler: 604.660.2729
Fax filings: 604.660.1951

Mail filings:

Vancouver Registry
BC Court of Appeal
The Law Courts
400-800 Hornby Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2C5

Dated 30 March 2020, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Robert J. Bauman
Chief Justice of British Columbia

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Provincial Court registries are no longer providing in-person registry services during the suspension of the Court’s regular operations. Please see NP 19 COVID-19 Suspension of Regular Court Operations for filing options and procedures.

The Court will post further information as it becomes available, so please continue to check our website at www.provincialcourt.bc.ca and follow us on Twitter @BCProvCourt.

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Date Issued: 27 March 2020
Effective Date: 27 March 2020
NP 20

NOTICE TO THE PROFESSION AND PUBLIC
AFFIDAVITS FOR USE IN COURT PROCEEDINGS

The requirements for the commissioning of affidavits are set out in section 1 of Appendix A of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, some accommodation must be made for the commissioning of affidavits in circumstances where it is not possible or is medically unsafe for the deponent to physically attend before a commissioner. Examples might include deponents who are unable to leave their residences, are not permitted to receive visitors, or for those who are required to self quarantine.

With the approval of the Law Society of British Columbia, until further notice, the following accommodations will be made for affidavits to be used in any proceeding in the Provincial Court, subject always to the discretion of the Court to apply the best evidence requirements to their use:

  1. Any affidavit to be sworn using video technology must contain a paragraph at the end of the body of the affidavit describing that the deponent was not physically present before the commissioner, but was linked with the commissioner utilizing video technology and that the process described below for remote commissioning of affidavits was utilized.
  2. While connected via video technology, the deponent must show the commissioner the front and back of the deponent’s current government-issued photo identification and the commissioner must compare the video image of the deponent and information in the deponent’s government-issued photo identity document to be reasonably satisfied that it is the same person and that the document is valid and current. The commissioner must also take a screenshot of the front and back of the deponent’s government-issued photo identity document and retain it.
  3. The commissioner and the deponent are both required to have a copy of the affidavit, including all exhibits, before each of them while connected via video technology. Page 2 of 2 History of Notice to the Profession and Public
  4. The commissioner and the deponent must review each page of the affidavit and exhibits to verify that the pages are identical and if so, must initial each page in the lower right corner.
  5. At the conclusion of the review, the commissioner will administer the oath, the deponent will state what needs to be said to swear or affirm the truth of the facts, and the commissioner must watch the deponent sign his or her name to the affidavit.
  6. The deponent will then send the signed affidavit with exhibits electronically to the commissioner.
  7. Before completing the affidavit, the commissioner must compare each page of the copy received from the deponent against the initialed copy that was before him or her in the video conference and may affix his or her name to the jurat only upon being satisfied that the two copies are identical.
  8. The two copies will then be attached together with a certificate signed by the commissioner stating that the commissioner was satisfied that the process was necessary because it was impossible or unsafe, for medical reasons, for the deponent and the commissioner to be physically present together.
  9. The completed package would then be permitted to be filed.
  • Original Notice to the Profession and Public issued and effective on March 20, 2020.
  • Amended Notice to the Profession and Public issued and effective on March 27, 2020 (changes reference from “civil and family proceedings” to “court proceedings” and adds “in any proceeding” to para. 3).

Melissa Gillespie
Chief Judge
Provincial Court of British Columbia

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Date Issued: 27 March 2020
Effective date: 27 March 2020
FAM 07

PRACTICE DIRECTION CFCSA CONSENT REQUISITIONS

Purpose

To set out the procedure for adjourning non-urgent matters under the Child, Family and Community Service Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 46 (CFCSA) where all parties consent.

Application

This practice direction applies to all court registries in the Province.

Direction

  1. Effective March 27, 2020 until further direction, Director’s counsel may file a Consent Requisition Form to adjourn non-urgent CFCSA matters upon obtaining the written consent of all parties.

History of Practice Direction

  • Original practice direction dated March 27, 2020.
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Notice to the Profession, the Public and the Media Regarding Courtroom Procedures for In-Person Court Appearances

In order to protect the health and safety of court users, court staff and others and to help limit the spread of COVID-19, the following new procedures are being implemented for court proceedings where there counsel, parties, media and the public are attending in person:

1. Do not enter the courtroom if you have any flu-like symptoms or if you have been in contact with someone who has or is suspected of having COVID-19. Instead, leave the courthouse immediately and make arrangements to reschedule the hearing of your matter.

Courtrooms with a single scheduled matter

2. For courtrooms where only one matter is being heard, maintain an appropriate distance (2 metres) from other people at all times in the courtroom, in the courthouse and elsewhere. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently. These practices also apply to members of the public or the media who are observing court proceedings.

Courtrooms with more than one scheduled matter

3. For courtrooms where more than one matter is scheduled to be heard, counsel or parties entering the courtroom to check in with the court clerk should enter the courtroom one person at a time. Others should wait outside the courtroom with an appropriate distance (2 metres) between people.

4. When checking in for your matter, provide the court clerk with a cell phone number at which you can be reached that day. Then leave the courtroom, and wait in a suitable place, at least 2 metres away from other people.

5. When your case is about to be called, the court clerk will contact you at the cell phone number you have given.

6. Maintain an appropriate distance (2 metres) from other people at all times in the courtroom, in the courthouse and elsewhere. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently.

These practices also apply to members of the public or the media who are observing court proceedings.

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

Dated 27 March 2020, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson
Supreme Court of British Columbia

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This is an update from the Supreme Court of Canada with respect to COVID-19 further to the previous press release dated March 16, 2020. The Court continues to work with various stakeholders in the justice system to address the issues arising out of this exceptional situation.

The cases previously scheduled for hearing in March, April and May are adjourned, tentatively, to the month of June 2020. The Court will continue to issue judgments on applications for leave and on appeal for the time being. Until further notice, all media briefings on judgments on appeal will only be provided by teleconference.

Physical access to the Supreme Court of Canada Building remains restricted to those persons who are necessary to the proceedings before the Court. Court documents must be filed by e-mail. Further information on the Court’s website about modified filing requirements for court documents and other measures taken in response to Covid-19 can be found here: https://www.scc-csc.ca/home-accueil/index-eng.aspx.

We again thank everyone for their cooperation during this challenging period.

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Date Issued: 19 March 2020; revised 23 March 2020
Effective Date: 25 March 2020 (unless otherwise stated in this Notice)
NP 19

NOTICE TO THE PROFESSION AND PUBLIC
COVID-19: SUSPENSION OF REGULAR COURT OPERATIONS

Updates to this Notice dated March 23, 2020

We recognize the increasing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exceptional and unforeseen circumstances that continue to develop, the fact that a Provincial State of Emergency has been declared, the continued announcements about the increasing numbers of new COVID-19 cases, and the recommendations to stay home as much as possible and keep a safe distance from others. As a result of these circumstances the Provincial Court of British Columbia is making changes to this Notice. (Additions in red.) 

For adjournments of all criminal trials, as well as criminal and family trials currently scheduled for a continuation, please see the informationbelowregarding applications that must be made before March 27, 2020.

Notice Regarding Hub Locations 

Effective March 25, 2020 (unless otherwise stated in this Notice), the Honourable Chief Judge Gillespie has suspended regular operations of the Provincial Court of British Columbia at all of its locations to protect the health and safety of court users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19. In light of the extraordinary circumstances during the current public health emergency, members of the public who do not have urgent business before the Court are strongly discouraged from attending any courthouse.

Urgent criminal trials as ordered by a judge to proceed, bail hearings during Court sitting hours, and other urgent hearings as ordered by a judge will only be heard at one of the belowHub Court locations, unless otherwise ordered by the Regional Administrative Judge or their designate.

Region DESIGNATED HUB COURT LOCATION
Fraser Surrey
Interior Kelowna
Northern Prince George
Vancouver Urgent Family and Civil and Youth Robson Square
Vancouver Criminal 222 Main Street
Vancouver Island Victoria

In person filings at all Court locations are suspended. The procedure is set out below for urgent filings for each division of the Court.

I. FAMILY (including child protection (CFCSA) and maintenance enforcement (FMEA))

To contact legal aid to make an application or seek help with an urgent problem relating to afamilycourt matter that has been adjourned in response to the current Covid-19 situation, please call your local legal aid officeor call 1 866 577-2525 (BC wide) or 604 408-2172 (Greater Vancouver).

Family case conferences, family management conferences, and CFCSA case conferences scheduled between March 16 and May 4, 2020 will not proceed so the parties should not attend Court. The parties will receive notification by May 4, 2020 regarding the next date they must attend Court.

All non-urgent family matters, including trials, scheduled to proceed between March 18 and May 16, 2020 are adjourned without the parties having to attend Court. See Appendix “A” - Adjournment Details for the next date.

Family law trials that are currently scheduled for a continuation between March 25 and May 16, 2020 are adjourned unless a party applies to the court registry before March 27, 2020 by telephone to proceed on the basis of urgency. If the judge allows the application,the continuation must beheard by telephone. There will not be any in person attendanceby counsel, parties or witnesses.

In a child protection caseall statutorily mandated matters, including the initial presentation hearing and the protection hearing,are urgent hearings and will proceed on the day they are scheduled by telephone and, if they are on a list, they will proceed on the list day.

In all other cases, on application, only urgent family (FLA, CFCSA, and FMEA) matters as determined by a judge in a telephone hearing will be heard, including:

  1. requests for urgent relief relating to the safety of a child or parent;
  2. requests to obtain or set aside protection orders, or urgent orders involving parenting time, contact with a child or communication between parties;
  3. urgent issues that must be determined relating to the well-being of a child including essential medical decisions or issues relating to relocation, non-removal, wrongful removal or retention of a child;
  4. in a child protection case, all urgent or statutorily mandated matters, including the initial presentation hearing, the protection hearing, applications for supervision orders and for extension of time, and any other urgent motions or hearings; and
  5. applications to suspend, change or cancel any order for imprisonment or committal pursuant to the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act.
  6. urgent cases where irreparable harm will occur if the application is not heard.

PROCEDURE FOR DETERMINING URGENT FAMILY MATTERS

Applications to a judge for determining on the record if a matter is urgent can be sent:

  1. by email, phone or mail to the applicable local court registry; or,
  2. by fax to fax filing registries (see GEN 01 Practice Direction).

If a judge determines that a matter is urgent, a hearing/trial will be scheduled with all participants appearing by telephone. The hearing/trial will not be in person.

The Provincial Court registries will not accept any new non-urgent family filings submitted between March 18, 2020 and May 16, 2020.

II. SMALL CLAIMS

Small claims settlement conferences and small claims trial conferences scheduled between March 16 and May 16, 2020 will not proceed so the parties should not attend Court. The parties will receive notification by May 4, 2020 regarding the next date they must attend Court.

All non-urgent small claims matters, including trials and Rule 9.1 Simplified Trials, scheduled to proceed between March 18, 2020 and May 16, 2020 are adjourned without the parties having to attend Court. See Appendix “A” - Adjournment Details for more information.

Only urgent small claims matters as determined by a judge on the record will be heard by telephone, including applications:

  1. regarding outstanding warrants;
  2. to preserve limitation periods;
  3. to extend the time for filing pleadings where permitted under the Small Claims Rules; and
  4. to renew notices of claim.

Small claims trials that are currently scheduled to continue between March 23 and May 16, 2020 are adjourned. You will be notified of your next court date.

PROCEDURE FOR DETERMINING URGENT SMALL CLAIMS MATTERS

Applications to a judge for determining if a matter is urgent can be sent:

  1. electronically (where able) using Court Services Online;
  2. by email, phone or mail to the applicable local court registry; or,
  3. by fax to fax filing registries (see GEN 01 Practice Direction).

No new non-urgent small claims filings will be accepted by the Provincial Court registries submitted between March 18, 2020 and May 16, 2020.

III. CRIMINAL (ADULT AND YOUTH)

To contact legal aid to make an application or seek help with an urgent problem relating to acriminalcourt matter that has been adjourned in response to the current Covid-19 situation, please call your local legal aid officeor call 1 866 577-2525 (BC wide) or 604 408-2172 (Greater Vancouver).

1. PERSONS IN CUSTODY

All in custody criminal trials and trial continuations scheduled between March 23 and May 16, 2020 areadjourned and witnesses will be denotified unless you or your counsel or Crown counsel contact the Judicial Case Manager at the applicable court location before March 27, 2020 and arrange to have the Court determine, by telephone, whether the trial is urgent and, if so, how the trial will proceed. Otherwise, as of March 27, 2020 you will be deemed to have consented to this adjournment and witnesses will be de-notified. The Court file will record that these adjournments are due to COVID-19.The Court file will record that these adjournments are due to COVID-19

The scheduling and hearing of in-custody sentencings or bail hearings will proceed unless adjourned by the Court on application by a party. Parties must appear by video conference or telephone for in custody sentencing and bail hearings. You may apply to adjourn a sentencing or bail hearing by calling the Judicial Case Manager at the applicable court location noted above. Adjournments due to COVID-19 will be noted as such in the Court file.

Consent remand matters will proceed by telephone or by submitting to the Judicial Case Manager the Consent Remand Form by email where available.

All judicial interim release (bail) hearings will continue to use video/telephone conferences (instead of in-person appearances), unless a judge or justice orders otherwise. Bail applications occurring outside of Court sitting hours shall be referred to the Justice Centre.

For consent bail variations without a surety, the Form in Appendix “B” may be sent to the Judicial Case Manager at the applicable local court location in one of the following ways:

  1. by email; or
  2. if available in the location, by facsimile. 

Counsel for a person in-custody may sign the Form on their behalf if it is their application. For consent bail variations with a surety, please call the Judicial Case Manager at the applicable local court location for further information.

2. PERSONS OUT OF CUSTODY (including Circuit Courts)

With the exception of matters determined by a judge to be urgent, all out of custody criminal matters (initial appearances, remands, applications, trials, and sentencings) scheduled to proceed between March 18 and May 16, 2020 are adjourned without the parties having to attend Court. See Appendix “A” - Adjournment Details for the next date. The Court file will record that these adjournments are due to COVID-19.

If an out of custody trial is urgent, the person out ofcustody, their counsel or Crown counsel must contact the Judicial Case Manager at the applicable local court location before March 27, 2020 and they will arrange to have the Court determine by telephone whether the trial is urgent and any next steps. Otherwise, as of March 27, 2020, you will be deemed to have consented to this adjournment and witnesses will be de-notified. The Court file will record that these adjournments are due to COVID-19.

3. PROCEDURE FOR URGENT CRIMINAL MATTERS

Criminal trials that are currently scheduled for continuationbetween March 25 and May 16, 2020 are adjourned unless a party contacts the Judicial Case Manager at the applicable court location and applies to the Courtbefore March 27, 2020 by telephone to proceed on the basis of urgency. If the judge allows the application the continuation must beheard by telephone. There will not be any in person attendancesby the accused, counsel orwitnesses.

If you think your matter (other than a trial) is urgent, you or your counsel must contact the Judicial Case Manager at the applicable local court locationand they will arrange to have a judge determine,by telephone,whether the matter is urgent and any next steps.

4. INDIGENOUS COURTS

All Indigenous Court matters scheduled to proceed between March 18 and May 16, 2020 are adjourned without the parties having to attend Court. See Appendix “C” - Indigenous Courts Adjournment Details for more information.

5. FILINGS

No new non-urgent criminal filings will be accepted by the applicable local court registry between March 18, 2020 and May 16, 2020.

Informations must be sent by telecommunication (fax or telephone) to the applicable local court registry. The process hearing will be done by telephone.

6. JUDICIAL AUTHORIZATIONS

Until further notice, all applications for judicial authorization that can be made by telecommunication should be made by telecommunication for judicial consideration. This direction restricting in-person applications supercedes paras. 3 and 6 of CRIM 03 Daytime Search Warrant Applications.

Applicants seeking judicial authorization for matters that by law must be applied for in person are to give consideration to the investigative urgency of the matter and seek judicial authorization where the matter is a priority. The Court may vet matters accordingly, decline to consider an in person application, or provide applicants with directions as to where a particular application may be made in person to a judicial officer.

For all warrants, includingjudge only warrants, peace officers should contact the Justice Centre. Do not attend your local courthouse in person.

7. SECTION 490 DETENTION OF THINGS SEIZED

Section 490 Criminal Code extension applications will be heard by telephone. New applications must include a date/time and phone number that the applicant and disputant can attend by telephone. On the day of the telephone hearing, if the matter is uncontested, and service has been proven, the CSB Justice of the Peace or Judicial Justice will review the application along with supporting materials filed. If the matter is contested, the CSB Justice of the Peace or Judicial Justice will obtain the telephone contact information for the applicant and disputant and provide that to the applicable local Judicial Case Manager, who will arrange to have a Provincial Court Judge determine by telephone whether the matter is urgent and any next steps.

8. JUSTICE CENTRE

For bail and judicial authorizations at the Justice Centre that police agencies or counsel believe require an in-person appearance, the police agency or counsel must call the Justice Centre and they will arrange to have a Provincial Court Judge or Judicial Justice determine by telephone whether the matter is urgent and any next steps.

Affiants with an in-person application to be made at the Justice Centre must swear their affidavits before attending at the Justice Centre and will then drop off the document at the front counter without a personal appearance before anyone at the Justice Centre.

For all warrants, including judge only warrants, peace officers should contact the Justice Centre. Do not attend your local courthouse in person.

IV. TRAFFIC, TICKET OR BYLAW MATTERS

Traffic, ticket or bylaw matters scheduled from March 18 to May 4, 2020 are adjourned without the disputant having to attend Court and will be rescheduled to a later date. A notice of a new Court date will be sent to the disputant by mail to the address on file with the Court.

To dispute a violation ticket, the disputant has the option to download a form and mail it in to:

Ticket Dispute Processing
Bag 3510
Victoria, B.C. V8W 3P7

The timeline to pay fines related to a Provincial Court traffic, ticket or bylaw case is extended to June 30, 2020.These measures are adopted to ensure no one is required to attend court or visit a courthouse todeal with a pending fine.

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE, ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

History of Notice to the Profession and Public

  • Original Notice to the Profession and Public issued on March 19, 2020, and effective March 25, 2020 (unless otherwise stated in the Notice).
  • Updated Notice issued March 23, 2020 with additions noted in red.

By Direction of Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie
Provincial Court of British Columbia

Appendix “A” – Adjournment Details

If your court location is listed in the table immediately below, you will be required to contact the scheduling contact noted below for your location (by email or telephone) on the date you were originally scheduled to attend Court in order to set your next appearance date.

Area Court Location Scheduling Contact
Campbell River Campbell River (staffed)
Gold River (circuit)
CampbellRiver.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-286-7556 (Mon and Tue)
250-334-1237 (Wed, Thu, and Fri)
Cariboo Quesnel (staffed)
Williams Lake (staffed)
100 Mile House (circuit)
Anaheim Lake (circuit)
Cariboo.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-398-4377
Courtenay Courtenay (staffed) Courtenay.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-286-7556 (Mon and Tue)
250-334-1237 (Wed, Thu, and Fri)
Duncan Ganges (circuit) Dun.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-746-1201
Kamloops Clearwater (circuit)
Lillooet (circuit)
Merritt (circuit)
Kamloops.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-828-4086
East Kootenays Cranbrook (staffed)
Golden (staffed)
Creston (circuit)
Fernie (circuit)
Invermere (circuit)
Sparwood (circuit)
EKootenays.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-426-1354
West Kootenays Nelson (staffed)
Rossland (staffed)
Castlegar (circuit)
Grand Forks (circuit)
Nakusp (circuit)
WKootenays.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-354-6870
North Vancouver Pemberton (circuit) NVan.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
604-981-0293
Peace District Dawson Creek (staffed)
Chetwynd (circuit)
Tumbler Ridge (circuit)
Peace.District.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-787-3416
Penticton Princeton (circuit) Penticton.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-492-1298
Port Hardy Port Hardy (staffed) PortHardy.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-286-7556 (Mon and Tue)
250-334-1237 (Wed, Thu, and Fri)
Powell River Powell River (staffed) LCaporale@provincialcourt.bc.ca and YHadfield@provincialcourt.bc.ca
604-485-3630
Prince George Mackenzie
(staffed by Service BC)
Valemount
(staffed by Service BC)
Fort St. James (circuit)
Fraser Lake (circuit)
McBride (circuit)
Vanderhoof (circuit)
PG.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-614-2740 or 250-614-2756
Prince Rupert Prince Rupert (staffed)
Masset (circuit)
Queen Charlotte (circuit)
PrinceRupert.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-847-7482
Smithers Burns Lake (staffed)
Smithers (staffed)
Hazelton (circuit)
Houston (circuit)
Smithers.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-847-7482
Terrace Fort Nelson (staffed)
Dease Lake (circuit)
Kitimat (circuit)
New Aiyansh (circuit)
Stewart (circuit)
Terrace.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-638-2140
Vernon Salmon Arm (staffed)
Revelstoke (circuit)
Vernon.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-549-5433 (Vernon)
250-833-3376 (Salmon Arm)

For all other court locations not listed in the above table, your matter is adjourned to the date set out below to fix your next appearance date:

If your matter is scheduled for… Your matter is adjourned to fix a date for your next appearance on…
March 18 June 17
March 19 June 18
March 20 June 19
March 23 June 22
March 24 June 23
March 25 June 24
March 26 June 25
March 27 June 26
March 30 June 29
March 31 June 30
April 1 July 2 (STAT July 1)
April 2 July 3
April 3 July 6
April 6 July 7
April 7 July 8
April 8 July 9
April 9 July 10
April 14 July 13
April 15 July 14
April 16 July 15
April 17 July 16
April 20 July 17
April 21 July 20
April 22 July 21
April 23 July 22
April 24 July 23
April 27 July 24
April 28 July 27
April 29 July 28
April 30 July 29
May 1 July 30
May 4 July 31
May 5 August 4 (STAT Aug 3)
May 6 August 5
May 7 August 6
May 8 August 7
May 11 August 10
May 12 August 11
May 13 August 12
May 14 August 13
May 15 August 14

 

Appendix "B" - Application to Vary Bail by Consent Form

Appendix “C” – Indigenous Courts Adjournment Details

Indigenous Court If you have an existing appearance date scheduled for … Your matter is adjourned to …
Duncan Thursday, March 26
Thursday, April 23
Monday May 11 (half day)
Friday May 15
Kamloops Friday, April 3
Friday, May 8
Friday, June 5
Friday, July 10
Merritt Wednesday, April 22 Wednesday, June 17
New Westminster Thursday, April 9
Thursday, May 7
Thursday, June 4
Thursday, July 2
North Vancouver Wednesday, March 18
Wednesday, April 8
Wednesday, June 3
Wednesday, June 17
Prince George Tuesday, April 7
Tuesday, May 5
Tuesday, June 2
Tuesday, July 7
Previous Updates

March 17, 2020 COVID-19 Message
March 15 & 16, 2020 COVID-19 Message
March 12 & 13, 2020 COVID-19 Message

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The Tax Court of Canada has cancelled all sittings and conference calls scheduled to May 1, 2020. The period from March 16 to May 1st, 2020 is excluded from the computation of time under the Rules and Order or Direction of the Court made before March 16. The Chief Justice will continue to monitor and reassess the situation on April 14, 2020.
 
Updates will be posted on this website. Any questions may be directed to the TCC Registry at 1-800-927-5499 or (613) 992-0901.

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Notice to the Profession, the Public and the Media Regarding Criminal Proceedings

COVID-19: Suspension of Regular Supreme Court Operations

Date: March 18, 2020

Effective March 19, 2020 and until further notice, the Honourable Chief Justice Hinkson has suspended regular operations of the Supreme Court of British Columbia at all of its locations to protect the health and safety of court users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

This direction replaces the Court’s announcement issued Friday, March 13, 2020.

I. REGULAR CRIMINAL MATTERS

All criminal matters scheduled for any type of appearance between March 19, 2020 and May 1, 2020, are adjourned, unless directed otherwise by the Court. To preserve jurisdiction, a bench warrant will be issued for all accused persons who have scheduled appearances during that time period. The bench warrant will be held and not executed until the date of the next scheduled appearance as identified below (dates are subject to change depending on circumstances closer to the time). If the accused person appears personally or through counsel on that date, the bench warrant will be vacated.

  • For a matter scheduled for the period between March 19 and April 9, 2020, the next appearance will be set on the fix date list of the court location where the matter was scheduled to be heard, on the dates set out in Appendix A.
  • For a matter scheduled for the period between April 14 and May 1, 2020, the next appearance will be set on the fix date list of the court location where the matter was scheduled to be heard, on the dates set out in Appendix B.

Counsel must contact the local Manager of Supreme Court Scheduling the week prior to the fix date appearance to canvass new dates. Scheduling information by location can be found here.

If the public health situation improves before May 1, 2020, to a point where the Court can begin to resume regular operations, Supreme Court Scheduling will contact counsel (and the accused if not represented by counsel) to arrange for an earlier appearance, if possible.

II. ESSENTIAL & URGENT CRIMINAL MATTERS

In order to maintain the rule of law and its core function, the Court will continue to hear essential and urgent matters during the suspension period. Hearings will be by telephone where possible and appropriate, or by video appearance where appropriate and available. Essential and urgent criminal matters include the following:

  • Judicial interim release (bail) and bail review hearings;
  • Scheduling and detention review hearings under s. 525 of the Criminal Code;
  • Habeas corpus applications, or other applications by in-custody accused persons and offenders that require prompt attention;
  • Applications under Part VI of the Criminal Code, applications for search warrants or arrest warrants, or other related applications that should not be delayed.

For matters not listed above, counsel, or accused persons not represented by counsel, who believe that their matter is urgent may submit a request to the Court that the matter be heard.

III. WITNESSES, LAWYERS AND JURORS

Witnesses, lawyers and jurors should not attend court for trials or any matters between March 19 and May 1, 2020, unless specifically directed to do so by the Court after the date of this Notice. Jurors and witnesses will be re-notified of when to attend. Unless ordered otherwise, ongoing trials will be adjourned to a date after May 1, 2020.

IV. PROCEDURE FOR URGENT MATTERS

The Court has established the following two-part procedure to facilitate the hearing of essential and urgent matters. First, the applicant will submit a request to the Court for an urgent hearing using an online form. Parties will then submit unfiled materials in order that the Court can assess the urgency of the matter. Second, if the Court determines that the matter is essential and urgent and a hearing is required, the Court will set a date and direct the parties to file their materials electronically in accordance with a modified process.

A. Requesting a Hearing

  1. A request for the hearing of an urgent matter must be made by completing an online Request for Urgent Hearing form
  2. Upon receipt of the request form, the Court will send the parties an email confirming receipt of the request form.
  3. The parties must follow the instructions in the request acknowledgement email and provide relevant unfiled materials to assist with the Court’s determination as to whether the matter is of sufficient urgency to require a hearing. If the respondent’s unfiled materials are not received within a reasonable time, the Court will review the applicant’s request without the responding materials.
  4. A judge of the Court will review the request form and related materials and make a determination as to whether the matter requires an urgent hearing.

B. Instructions for Filing Materials

  1. If the judge determines that a hearing is required, the Court will set a hearing date and provide directions to the parties about filing and service of materials. Materials will be filed electronically, if possible.

C. Conduct of Hearing

  1. Parties will appear by telephone where possible and appropriate, or by video where appropriate and available.

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

Dated 18 March 2020, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson Supreme Court of British Columbia

APPENDIX A

Campbell River Monday, May 4th at 10:00am
Chilliwack Monday, 11th at 2:00pm
Courtenay Monday, June 1st at 10:00am
Cranbrook Monday, May 11th at 2:00pm
Dawson Creek Monday, May 4th at 10:00am
Duncan Wednesday, May 6th at 2:00pm (In Victoria)
Fort St. John Monday, May 4th at 10:00am
Kamloops Monday, May 4th at 2:00pm
Kelowna Monday, May 4th at 10:00 am
Nanaimo Monday, May 4th at 2:00pm
Nelson Tuesday, May 19th at 2:00pm
New Westminster Thursday, May 7th at 2:00pm
Penticton Monday, June 8th at 10:00 am
Port Alberni Monday, May 11th at 10:00am
Powell River Monday, May 11th at 10:00am
Prince George Monday, May 11th at 9:30am
Prince Rupert Monday, May 11th at 10:00am
Quesnel Monday, May 4th at 10:00am
Revelstoke Monday, May 11th at 10am
Rossland Monday, May 4th at 2:00pm
Salmon Arm Tuesday, May 12th at 10:00am
Smithers Monday, May 4th at 10:00am
Terrace Tuesday, June 23rd at 10:00am
Vancouver Wed., May 6th at 2:00pm or Wed., May 13th at 2:00pm
Vernon Monday, May 11th at 10:00 am
Victoria Wednesday, May 6th at 2:00pm
Williams Lake Monday, May 11th at 10:00am

APPENDIX B

Campbell River Monday, June 8th at 10:00am
Chilliwack Tuesday, May 19th at 2:00pm
Courtenay Monday, June 22nd at 10:00am
Cranbrook Monday, June 8th at 2:00pm
Dawson Creek Monday, May 4th at 10:00am
Duncan Wednesday, June 3rd (in Victoria)
Fort St John Monday, May 4th at 10:00am
Kamloops Monday, May 11th at 2:00pm
Kelowna Tuesday, May 19th at 10am
Nanaimo Tuesday, May 19th at 2:00pm
Nelson Monday, June 1st at 2:00pm
Penticton Monday, June 8th at 10:00am
Port Alberni Monday, May 11th at 10:00am
Powell River Monday, May 11th at 10:00am
Prince George Tuesday, May 19th at 9:30am
Prince Rupert Monday, May 11th at 10:00am
Quesnel Monday, May 4th at 10:00am
Revelstoke Monday, June 8th at 10:00am
Rossland Monday, June 22nd at 2:00pm
Salmon Arm Tuesday, June 9th at 10:00am
Smithers Monday, May 4th at 10:00am
Terrace Tuesday, June 23rd at 10:00am
Vancouver Wed., May 27th at 2:00pm or Wed., June 3rd at 2:00pm
Vernon Tuesday, May 19th at 10:00am
Victoria Wednesday, June 3rd at 2:00pm
Williams Lake Tuesday, May 19th at 10:00am

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NOTICE TO THE PARTIES AND THE PROFESSION

TO: Parties and the Profession
FROM: The Honourable Marc Noël, Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Appeal
DATE: March 16, 2020
SUBJECT: Update on Court operations in light of COVID-19

Since issuing a Notice to Parties and to the Profession with regard to Court operations in light of COVID-19 on Friday March 13, 2020, measures seeking to contain the spread of the virus have evolved significantly.

Public health officials have now advised members of the public to restrict their movements as much as possible, including travel to and from work. Court employees, like all employees of the federal government, have been asked to telework where possible and Court managers have been asked to focus their efforts on ensuring continued critical operations.

Accordingly, the Federal Court of Appeal is adjourning all hearings scheduled to be heard between now and April 17, 2020, with the exception of urgent matters that will be heard by teleconference. The Judicial Administrator will contact counsel and parties involved in matters thus adjourned for possible new dates when circumstances permit.

In the meantime, the Court will remain available to deal with urgent matters by teleconference.

Until further notice, Registry operations will continue with significantly reduced staff, both in Ottawa and in regional offices. Staff will be available to receive court filings at any of the Court’s registry offices but parties and the public should expect a significantly decreased level of service.

Exceptionally and until April 13, 2020, the Court will accept electronic filing of court documents by email at Information@fca-caf.gc.ca provided that those documents are in PDF format. Please note that the Court is unable to accept electronic documents greater than 10MB. Parties that proceed in this way will be exempted from the filing of paper copies.

All filing deadlines continue to apply. Parties will be able to request an extension of time for deadlines set out in the Federal Courts Act or Federal Courts Rules if they are unable to meet the filing deadlines in light of current circumstances but are asked to do so once Court operations return to normal.

The situation will continue to be monitored with a view to restoring normal Court operations as circumstances allow.

The Court appreciates the patience and understanding of parties and their counsel during these challenging times.

The Law Society of BC

LSBC has a COVID-19 Information page including an FAQ. Some information is provided below but visit their site for all LSBC updates.

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The Law Society continues to develop guidance and measures to support lawyers in the delivery of legal services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal is to ensure a continuity of legal services without risk to the health of you and the public. In addition to the information here, you will find updates on the Law Society website.

Guidance for lawyers who test positive for COVID-19

Lawyers who test positive for the COVID-19 virus, or who are being treated as presumptively positive, may be required to provide information to the provincial health officials, including the names and contact information of clients or other individuals with whom they had recent contact. The Law Society has developed Guidance for Lawyers to assist with maintaining confidential information while complying with legal responsibilities for disclosure to health officials.

Electronic banking, trust accounting and financial transactions during COVID-19

Sole practitioners and small firms with lawyers and staffs who are working remotely have asked questions about the use of electronic banking and electronic signatures, using email to send clients their bill, or how to manage banking now that several financial institutions have closed branches temporarily or reduced in-person services as part of their COVID-19 response. Further information and answers to these questions are available in the Trust Accounting and Financial FAQs on the COVID-19 Information web page.

LTSA modifies requirements for virtual commissioning

The LTSA has issued a new version of Practice Bulletin 1-20 which modifies the requirements for commissioning affidavits virtually by eliminating the need for the certificate as provided in their original practice bulletin. For further information, read the full Practice Bulletin.

Tips for the business of law during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for lawyers and law firms, including economic pressures and potential changes to the business of law. The Law Society has heard from many of you who are concerned about the economic future. Our Practice Advisors and other departments have assembled 17 Tips for the business of law during COVID-19 to address concerns and questions that some lawyers and students are experiencing during this difficult time. 

Fraud alert: phishing, email and text scams

Over the past several weeks, we have seen an increase in the frequency of email phishing and fraud attempts. Fraudsters are sending COVID-19 related emails impersonating a colleague or person in authority that trick recipients into installing malicious software on their computer or mobile device by opening an attachment or clicking a link in emails or text messages.

Be vigilant and protect yourself and your firm’s network and finance. Alert your staff. Avoid clinking links or opening attachments unless you are certain of their legitimacy.

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The Law Society would like to assist lawyers and law firms during this uncertain time by extending the Trust Report filing requirement for law firms with the period ending December 31, 2019. Firms will now have until April 30, 2020 to submit their Trust Report.

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On March 20, 2020, the Court of Appeal for British Columbia, the Supreme Court of British Columbia, and the Provincial Court of British Columbia issued Notices regarding affidavits for use in Civil and Family Proceedings that set out a process for commissioning affidavits in urgent cases where it is not possible, or is medically unsafe, for the deponent of an affidavit to attend physically before a commissioner. The full Notices can be found in the directives linked below:

Court of Appeal for British Columbia

Supreme Court of British Columbia

Provincial Court of British Columbia

Where lawyers reasonably determine that circumstances require virtual commissioning of an affidavit and follow the procedure in the Court’s notice, the Law Society will consider the requirement that the deponent be physically present before the lawyers, set out in Appendix A 1(a) of the Code of Professional Conduct, to have been met.

LAND TITLE AND SURVEY AUTHORITY (LTSA)
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Following the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) announcement of March 31, PB 01-20 Process for Remote Witnessing of Affidavits for use in Land Title Applications has been revised to provide further direction on affidavits as supporting documents attached to a Declaration form.

Practice Bulletin 01-20 has been updated with the following revisions: 

  • Amended approvals to include the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia

  • Removed the certificate from paragraph 8 and amended and combined the content in paragraphs 8 and 9 to provide further direction on affidavits as supporting documents attached to a Declaration form

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The Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) thanks its customers for their questions and feedback over the past few weeks as everyone has adapted their business to comply with the Province’s physical distancing measures. As essential service providers, we are all connected in our efforts to maintain the continuous functioning of BC’s real property market during these extraordinary times.

The Director of Land Titles has issued Practice Bulletin 01-20 Process for Remote Witnessing of Affidavits for use in Land Title Applications, in effect immediately to provide direction about remote witnessing of affidavits in support of land title applications (including section 49) during the COVID-19 pandemic. This practice direction enables only BC lawyers and notaries who represent the parties to a property transaction to remotely witness affidavits. Lawyers and notaries who choose to remotely witness affidavits must first review the Law Society of British Columbia’s (LSBC) directions on best practices for using video-conferencing when providing legal advice or services, and must incorporate a statement in the jurat of the affidavit confirming this process was used and the best practices were followed.

Download the Practice Bulletin

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In response to our customers’ feedback, and further to the guidance provided on March 24, 2020, the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) has updated the list of supporting documents for which a true copy may be used in place of the original document. True copies accepted during the COVID-19 situation now include:

  1.  Certificates from Vital Statistics
    Designates can now submit true copies of supporting documents such as death certificates, marriage certificates, and change of name certificates.
     
  2.  Court Certified Documents
    Documents such as Certificate of Judgement and Certificate of Pending Litigation can also be submitted now as true copies.

 As the COVID-19 situation evolves, current information about land title practice matters will be posted to our website at ltsa.ca and Twitter account @LTSABC.

The LTSA is committed to protecting the health and well-being of our employees and customers while ensuring our business operations continue as usual. Thank you for your continued understanding and support.

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In support of recommendations by the BC Public Health Officer to maintain social distance, the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) has implemented temporary changes during these extraordinary times with respect to witnessing requirements when executing instruments under the Land Title Act.

1. Sections 42-48 in Part 5 of Land Title Act

This part of the Land Title Act requires individuals executing an instrument to appear before an officer. However, in circumstances where individuals do not wish to appear before an officer due to social distancing concerns, the Registrar will accept an Affidavit of Execution sworn under section 49 of the Act. For more details on section 49, including preferred forms of affidavit, please see paragraphs 5.88 to 5.101 of the Land Title Practice Manual.

Although virtual commissioning of affidavits for use in Civil and Family proceedings were approved on March 20, 2020, the Land Title Act does not allow for remote or videoconference witnessing. The Supreme Court of BC has held that the words “appear before” require a physical presence before the officer, and not an appearance by means of videoconference technology (First Canadian Title Insurance Company v. The Law Society of B.C., 2004 BCSC 197). The Law Society of BC is currently working with the Province on a solution.

2. Instruments Executed and Witnessed Contemporaneously in Counterpart

Another acceptable option would be for individuals to sign an execution copy of a document in the presence of, but at a safe distance from, the officer who would apply his/her signature and officer details on an identical execution copy. If the Registrar requires the applicant to produce the execution copy under section 168.57 of the Land Title Act, having the two signatures on separate pages will not trigger any action against the designate who certified the document.

3. True Copies Accepted for Supporting Documents

The Director of Land Titles has published a list of supporting documents for which a true copy may be used in place of the original document.  

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, current information about land title practice matters will be posted to our website at ltsa.ca and Twitter account @LTSABC.

The LTSA is committed to protecting the health and well-being of our customers and employees, while ensuring our business operations continue as usual. Thank you for your continued understanding and support.